Orders of precedence in the People's Republic of China

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The Orders of precedence in the People's Republic of China is the ranking of political leaders in China, by order of presumed political power. Although there is no formally published ranking, there is usually an established convention and protocol, and the relative positions of Chinese political figures can usually be deduced from the order in meetings and especially by the time and order which figures are covered by the official media.

Depending on the person and the time period, the hierarchy will vary accordingly. Although Chinese political positions are becoming increasingly institutionalized, part of the power of Chinese leaders still derives from who they are, rather than what position they hold.

Individuals can hold multiple top leadership titles but also be unable to claim to be the de facto ruler as was the case with Chairman Hua Guofeng, when "paramount leader" Deng Xiaoping was present. The traditional ranking system was based upon the hierarchical line of the politburo standing committee; however, "special" cases do arise as it is the case with Jiang Zemin and the 4th Generation leaders. Jiang, although retired from the politburo and the central committee, was nonetheless ranked number two for being the all-powerful CMC chairman until his resignation on September 19, 2004.

Order of precedence[edit]

Applications of protocol[edit]

The Order of Precedence has gradually become normalized as the institutions of the Communist Party and the People's Republic became more established and stable. Internal publications and official media adhere to strict ranking protocol when reporting news items or public announcements that involve multiple leaders. Similarly, the order is strictly adhered to when seating leaders at official meetings and functions.

Often, state media news programs, such as Xinwen Lianbo, overlook the actual importance of the story attached to each leader. Rather the news order is determined by political ranking alone. For instance, if a higher-ranked leader is chairing a routine meeting, while a lower-ranked leader is visiting an earthquake disaster zone, the routine meeting will take precedence over the disaster in the order that they are reported.

Protocol ordering of leaders is perhaps most visible at large gatherings of party and state leaders, such as Party Congresses, National People's Congresses, the funeral or memorial service of former leaders, or major anniversary celebrations.

The current order of precedence applies to party, state, and military leaders. It generally follows an order set out by the institutions to which these leaders belong; further ranking of individual leaders are applied within each of the institutions. Where an individual belongs to numerous party and state institutions, they are usually only mentioned on first instance for their highest-ranking post.

Order of institutions[edit]

The organs of the party, state, and military, have a generally applied rank order, as follows:

  1. The Communist Party of China
    1. The Politburo Standing Committee
    2. Other members of the Politburo
    3. Former members of the Politburo Standing Committee
    4. Members of the Secretariat of the Communist Party
  2. The Government of the People's Republic of China (the State)
    1. The National People's Congress
    2. The Presidency
    3. The State Council
    4. The Judicial Organs (Supreme People's Court; Supreme People's Procuratorate)
  3. The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (Quanguo Zhengxie)
  4. Central Military Commission
  5. Retired leaders, ranked by the highest office they held, repeating the same order above
  6. Provincial - Ministerial level institutions

Central Military Commission leaders who do not otherwise belong to any higher ranked institutions are not considered "leaders of the Party and State", and generally listed separately by protocol.

Politburo Standing Committee[edit]

The Politburo Standing Committee, colloquially called the Zhengzhiju Changwei in Chinese, is the apex of political power in China. Its members are strictly ranked. The rankings are determined by perceived political power, personal prestige, or by the ordering of the offices they hold.

The General Secretary of the Communist Party (before 1983, the Chairman of the Party) is always ranked first, despite the fact that some General Secretaries were not the pre-eminent political leaders. For example, General Secretaries Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang (both ranked first) were, in practice, subordinate to "paramount leader" Deng Xiaoping, who was ranked behind them in protocol. Between 1997 and 2012, the Chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC), the head of the national legislature, has always been ranked second. During the same period, the Premier, as head of government, was ranked third. The Chair of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is ranked fourth. However, in 2013, this ordering changed. The Premier, Li Keqiang, was ranked 2nd, immediately after the General Secretary, and in front of the NPC Chairman Zhang Dejiang.

The President is a largely ceremonial post. Since 1993, the offices of President and the General Secretary have been held by the same person, thus the President has since then been ranked first. Prior to 1993, the President and the General Secretary were not the same people. At the time, President Yang Shangkun, who was not a Standing Committee member, was ranked behind the members of the Standing Committee, but President Li Xiannian, being a member of the Standing Committee, was ranked third, behind the General Secretary and the Premier.

The current ranking of the Politburo Standing Committee is as follows:

Portrait Information Party position(s) State position(s)
1st
[1]
Xi Jinping
Name Xi Jinping General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee
Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission
Leader of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms
Chairman of the National Security Commission
President of the People's Republic of China
Chairman of the PRC Central Military Commission
Birthplace Xicheng District, Beijing
NPC Constituency Shanghai At-large
Member since 22 October 2007
2nd
[1]
Li Keqiang
Name Li Keqiang Party secretary of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
Deputy Leader of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms
Vice Chairman of the National Security Commission
Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
Birthplace Dingyuan County, Anhui
NPC Constituency Shandong At-large
Member since 22 October 2007
3rd
[1]
Zhang Dejiang
Name Zhang Dejiang Party secretary of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
Vice Chairman of the National Security Commission
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
Birthplace Tai'an County, Liaoning
NPC Constituency Zhejiang At-large
Member since 15 November 2012
4th
[1]
Yu Zhengsheng
Name Yu Zhengsheng Party secretary of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
Birthplace Shaoxing, Zhejiang
NPC Constituency Hubei At-large
Member since 15 November 2012
5th
[1]
Liu Yunshan
Name Liu Yunshan Top-ranked Secretary of the Central Secretariat of the CPC
Chairman of the Central Guidance Commission for Building Spiritual Civilization
President of the CPC Central Party School
Deputy Leader of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms
 
Birthplace Tumed Right Banner, Inner Mongolia
NPC Constituency Inner Mongolia At-large
Member since 15 November 2012
6th
[1]
Wang Qishan
Name Wang Qishan Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection  
Birthplace Tianzhen County, Shanxi
NPC Constituency Beijing At-large
Member since 15 November 2012
7th
[1]
Zhang Gaoli
Name Zhang Gaoli Deputy Party secretary of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
Deputy Leader of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms
First Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
Birthplace Jinjiang, Fujian
NPC Constituency Tianjin At-large
Member since 15 November 2012

Other members of the CPC Politburo[edit]

For its early history, the Politburo was theoretically a "leadership collective", with equal status accorded to each of its members. In practice, the Politburo Standing Committee members have elevated status within the body and are considered its most important and powerful members. When a new Politburo member list is first announced, or when the Politburo membership is being reported independently of other bodies, it is ordered by "the number of strokes in the surname character", a traditional method of 'alphabetization' of Chinese names. Unlike the PSC, it is not ordered based on presumed level of power. When it comes to seating protocol and official announcements about the Politburo in conjunction with other party and state bodies, the Politburo Standing Committee members are announced first, before the rest of the Politburo members. The Politburo members who are not part of the Standing Committee are arranged by order of surname strokes, not by the level of presumed political power.

Former living leaders from the Politburo Standing Committee or equivalent[edit]

Immediately following the 16th Party Congress, Jiang Zemin was ranked 2nd overall on the leadership protocol hierarchy, immediately after Hu Jintao. At the conclusion of the 18th Party Congress, when Hu Jintao retired as General Secretary, Jiang was ranked 2nd overall, after Xi Jinping, and Hu Jintao was ranked 3rd, after Jiang. Since 2013, judging mostly based on the official obituary notices of various deceased party officials, Jiang and Hu seemed to have progressively moved "lower" on the protocol strata, first below all current members of the Politburo Standing Committee, and as of 2014, behind all members of the Politburo.[2] At the National Day banquet held on September 30, 2014, both Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao were seated next to Xi Jinping, which seemed to have implied that they took precedence over the other members of the Politburo Standing Committee; however, sequence by which the names were displayed in official news bulletins continued to place the entire Politburo before Jiang, Hu, and other retired leaders.[3]

Ranking based on official order at the 65th Anniversary Banquet of the founding of the People's Republic of China held on September 30, 2014

Name Image Born Joined Party Former highest post(s) Retired
Jiang Zemin Jiang Zemin St. Petersburg2002.jpg 1926 1946 General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
President of the People's Republic of China
Chairman of the Central Military Commission
2005
Hu Jintao Hu Jintao Cannes2011.jpg 1942 1964 General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
President of the People's Republic of China
Chairman of the Central Military Commission
2013
Li Peng Li Peng.png 1928 1945 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Premier of the People's Republic of China
Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee
2003
Wan Li 1916 1936 Member of the CPC Politburo
Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee
1993
Qiao Shi 1924 1940 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee
1998
Zhu Rongji Zhu Rongji 2001.jpg 1928 1949 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Premier of the People's Republic of China
2003
Li Ruihuan Li Ruihuan.png 1934 1959 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee
2003
Wu Bangguo Wu Bangguo Beijing2011.jpg 1941 1964 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee
2013
Wen Jiabao Wen Jiabao (Cropped).jpg 1942 1965 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Premier of the People's Republic of China
2013
Jia Qinglin Jia Qinglin.jpg 1940 1959 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee
2013
Song Ping 1917 1937 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee 1992
Wei Jianxing 1931 1949 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
2002
Li Lanqing 1932 1952 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
First Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China
2003
Zeng Qinghong Zeng Qinghong.png 1939 1960 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
First Secretary of the CPC Central Secretariat
Vice President of the People's Republic of China
2008
Wu Guanzheng 1938 1962 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
2007
Li Changchun Li Changchun.jpg 1944 1965 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee 2012
Luo Gan 1935 1960 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Secretary of the CPC Central Political and Legislative Affairs Committee
2007
He Guoqiang He Guoqiang (Brasilia 2008).jpg 1943 1966 Member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee
Secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
2012

Members of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of China[edit]

Vice-Chairmen of the National People's Congress[edit]

State Council and Judiciary[edit]

Vice-chairpersons of the CPPCC[edit]

In the following order:

Members of the Central Military Commission[edit]

Ministries and Government Agencies[edit]

Rankings below the National Leadership[edit]

Within the People's Republic of China, there is a statutory "National Civil Service Rankings System" to determine ranking of officials below the minister-level, stretching from the very important positions (Provincial Party Secretaries, for instance) to the lowest positions (for example, someone who is responsible for a township office). Their relative ranking determines their annual salary, living stipends, entitlement to official residences and vehicles, pensions, benefits, and so forth. Provincial leaders do not enjoy an elevated protocol rank in their own province of jurisdiction. Rather they must still be placed behind all national leaders listed above.

In provincial, municipal, and other local-level protocol rankings, the four main institutions generally follow the ranking of:

  • Party Secretary
  • Chief of Government (Governor, usually a Deputy Secretary)
  • People's Congress Chair
  • People's Political Consultative Conference Chair

In provincial Party Committees, the ranking is relatively random depending on the province, municipality or Autonomous Region. For example, in 2014, the Sichuan Provincial Party Committee followed this ranking:

  • Provincial Party Secretary
  • Deputy Party Secretary, Governor
  • Provincial Party School President
  • Provincial Trade Union Chair
  • Provincial Discipline Inspection Secretary
  • Executive Vice Governor
  • Party Secretary of Chengdu
  • Secretary-General
  • Head of Provincial Organization Department
  • Director of Provincial Peasants and Workers Bureau
  • Secretary of the Provincial Politics and Law Commission
  • Director of provincial propaganda
  • Commander of the Sichuan Military Region

In contrast, Guangdong Province Party Committee followed this ranking:

  • Provincial Party Secretary
  • Deputy Party Secretary, Governor
  • Deputy Party Secretary, Secretary of Politics and Law Commission
  • Provincial Discipline Inspection Secretary
  • Party Secretary of Shenzhen
  • Head of Provincial Organization Department
  • Head of Provincial United Work Front Department
  • Executive Vice-Governor
  • Secretary-General
  • Director of provincial propaganda
  • Political Commissar of the Guangdong Military Region
  • Party Secretary of Zhuhai
  • Party Secretary of Guangzhou

Departmental heads of the Communist Party of China, and ministers of the State Council are both called bùzhǎng (部长; literally "Head of Department"), but the Party heads are ranked above cabinet ministers, all else being equal, reflecting the Party's "vanguard" status. Thus, for example, the head of the Party's International Department (中联部) is treated having a higher rank than the minister for Foreign Affairs (外交部). This rank is mostly for official protocol, but the privileges of the party departments heads are the same as cabinet ministers.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Xinhua Insight: China's new helmsmen". Xinhua. 15 November 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "胡錦濤遭"降級" 排名跌至政治局委員外". Duowei News. September 8, 2014. 
  3. ^ "A Rare Glimpse into China’s Second Black Box—the Powerful Elders". tiananmenstremendousachievements.wordpress.com. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  4. ^ http://cpc.people.com.cn/GB/64162/71380/71387/71591/4854995.html